The topic of food and nutrition is a critical, complex and, at times, contradictory hot-button area for moms—and it’s one that requires special research and concentration when marketing to moms.
Marketing strategists must realize that food is very personal to Mom and her relationship with her child. For a mom, feeding her child is so central to her role that the topic commands a considerable portion of her attention and time. Arguably, one part of the unstated definition of a “good” mother is one who feeds and cares for her child well so that the child thrives.
Given the importance placed on food and nutrition, it is not surprising that the vast majority—73%-- of moms of children of all ages believe they are changing the way their family eats to be more healthy versus the previous year.
“Healthy Convenience:” The New Fast Food
Two moms who are also nutrition experts, Pam Gardner, consultant with The Food Group and Krystina Rhychlik, R.D, principal at The Food Group, spoke with me on their perspective of food and nutrition trends with moms. Pam emphasizes:
“Convenience has been notched up a level. Moms want healthy convenience, and are increasingly attracted to ‘getting it all in one serving,’ like a smoothie. Eventually, fruit smoothies will be replaced by fruit and vegetable smoothies.”
As Pam points out, smoothies are a great way for Mom to “hide the nutrition,” and she will be loyal to brands that help with that goal. The brand Wyman’s Wild Blueberries has an effective marketing strategy for targeting moms—they promote the health benefits of quick-frozen fruits and convenience of berry blends that can be tossed right into the blender.
The “Cooking Myth:” Cooking vs. Assembling
Pam reveals a myth in today’s busy lifestyles:
“People just don’t have cooking skills these days, and they don’t desire them. We talk about people doing more cooking, but I don’t see that they actually are. Now, we ‘assemble’ instead of cook. On most days, we just assemble meals—we don’t cook.”
When asked what marketing to mom strategies brands should engage in, Pam suggests, “The job of food brands is to delight Mom as she cooks.”
“Successful brands will offer tools that make it fun for Mom. I just purchased a watermelon knife—you can cut an entire watermelon with it. The children and I enjoy using specialized tools like a pomegranate seeder or avocado slicer.”
More Than “Just Eat It:” Getting the Kids Involved
Krystina’s observation on the latest food trends with Mom is getting her children involved in the kitchen. “Children who help choose and prepare a meal are more likely to be excited about eating it—even if it’s healthy,” she explains. One of her family’s favorite activities is the Meal Swap:
“All my kids play sports, and preparing meals can be challenging. Meal Swap is something we do with two other families. Once a week, each family cooks dinner for the other two and delivers the meal. It’s been really fun because the kids get into planning what we’re going to make. My kids have been more willing to try new things that my friends have made.”
Marketing strategies for food brands should include ways to encourage Mom and child to plan and prepare meals together. Krystina mentions food magazines Eating Well, Food Network Magazine and ChopChop as a great example of getting children involved:
“My kids love the magazines. They flip through it; look at the pictures, and pick out things to make. They would never look through a cookbook like that. I love Eating Well because of the simple, healthy recipes. My issue with Food Network Magazine is that the recipes aren’t all that healthy.”
Pam helps her children feel more involved by adapting flavors from their favorite cuisines. She shares:
“On vacation, my step-son suggested an Indian restaurant. After that, I started introducing some Indian sauces at home.”
Trends in Food Marketing
In light of my conversations with these two food expert moms, marketing strategy for food brands (and brands connected with food) should focus on healthy convenience and getting the family involved.
For new product development, recognize that people don’t “cook” as much as they might think—busy families are much more likely to “assemble” their meals. While visuals of families cooking together appeal to Mom, the busy reality requires faster rather than from-scratch meals.